Automobile manufacturers reported strong vehicle sales in June despite analysts predictions that the automobile economy is likely to slow for the summer. The average increase for dealership sales was 22% with Toyota and Honda showing the strongest gains. Consumer interest in larger vehicles, such as pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) is being attributed to a sudden drop in the price of fuel, and low interest rates and the release of new models is bringing in consumers who have been delaying purchasing a new vehicle because of lack of confidence in the economy.

German automobile manufacturer BMW and Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota have announced that they will be expanding a 2011 agreement between the two companies to share strategic technologies in four different areas. BMW and Toyota emphasized that they have no intentions of building stakes in each others companies. Both say they share the same strategic vision of sustainable individual future mobility and feel their alliance will only strengthen both companies competitive position in sustainable future technologies. The agreement includes:

  • The joint development of a fuel cell system.
  • The joint development of architecture and components for a future sports vehicle.
  • Collaboration on power train electrification.
  • Joint research and development on lightweight technologies.

The agreement will also end any further discussions of BMW working with General Motors and will eventually dissolve a joint venture with France’s PSA Peugeot Citroen to share components for hybrid cars.

Toyota’s 2009 unintended acceleration problems continue as Toyota announces a recall for certain 2010 Lexus RX350 and 2010 Lexus RX450H vehicles manufactured between November 2008 through September 2010. According to the recall report, the accelerator pedal could get trapped under an unsecured or incompatible floor mat, allowing the vehicle to accelerate out of control. An accident could result if the the driver fails to rectify the problem quickly. Lexus will begin notifying owners of the problem starting in August, and will modify the accelerator pedal and replace any floor mats not specified for the vehicle. Owners wanting more information about the problem can contact Lexus at 1-800-255-3987.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expanding an investigation into defective power window switches in some Toyota and GM vehicles. Both investigation began in February after vehicle owners reported intermittent power windows, the smell of smoke, and in rare occasions fires. If the investigation leads to a recall, approximately 1.4 million Toyota and 342,000 GM vehicles could be involved. The vehicles under investigation includes:

  • 2007-2009 Toyota Camry
  • 2007-2009 Toyota Yaris
  • 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUVs
  • 2006-2007 Chevrolet TrailBlazer SUVs

The NHTSA said that it also will evaluate other GM vehicles with the same underpinnings. They include:

  • Buick Rainier
  • GMC Envoy
  • Isuzu Ascender
  • Saab 9-7X SUVs

Toyota and Subaru are recalling certain 2013 Toyota Scion FR-S and 2013 Subaru BRZ vehicles to update the owners manual information regarding the passenger side air bag. According to the recalls, the owner’s manual contains inaccurate information on the operation of the occupant classification system (OCS) which could increase the passengers chance of injury during certain crash conditions. The recall does not require the owner to take their vehicle to their dealership. Toyota and Subaru will be notifying owners of the problem and will mail out corrected manuals starting in June. Owners wanting more information about the problem can contact Toyota at 1-866-707-2466 and Subaru at 1-800-782-2783.

Toyota will be recalling a small number of 2013 Lexus GS350 cars manufactured between December 12, 2011 to February 7, 21012. The Problem is with the programming for the variable gear ratio steering (VGRS) system. If the engine is restarted immediately after the vehicle has been parked and the steering wheel is turned, the steering wheel could become off centered. Off centered steering will result in an unexpected maneuver which could result in a crash. Toyota will notify owners who can take in their vehicles to have the VGRS system updated. For more information about the problem, contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331.

An recent investigation into side curtain airbags not deploying properly in some Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Accura, and Subaru vehicles has the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concerned about how wide spread the problem could be. The investigation started after Swedish automobile parts manufacturer, Autoliv, reported that one of their airbags failed to deploy under cold weather conditions as a result of the wrong mixture of inflation gasses being used. The company also manufactures airbags for General Motors and Ford, but say that a different design is used. Approximately 11,000 of the potentially defective parts have been shipped to various manufacturers, and concerns over the problem has already lead to the recall of several vehicle models. The recall includes:

Toyota will be recalling certain 2005-2009 Tacoma pickup trucks manufactured between September 2004 to August 2008. According to the recall report filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), vibrations in the steering wheel could damage the spiral cable assembly (clock spring) that powers the driver’s air bag module. The damage could cause the air bag warning lamp to illuminate and the air bag could become deactivated. During an accident, the air bag may not deploy leaving the driver unprotected. Toyota will notify owners and dealers of the problem starting in early April, and will replace the spiral cable assembly free of charge. Owners wanting more information on the problem can contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331.

Toyota is recalling certain 2009 Camry sedans and 2009-2011 Venza mid size crossover SUV (CUV) vehicles over a manufacturing defect that could leave drivers with inoperative brake lights. According to the recall report filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), silicon grease may have gotten on the contacts of the stop lamp switch increasing the resistance of the switch. This problem with the brake lights could lead to a no start condition, and the driver may not be able to shift out of the “park” position. Toyota will be notifying and replacing the stop lamp switch starting in April. Owners wanting more information about the problem can contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating certain GM vehicles after receiving twelve complaints of smoke and fire from the inside of doors of some Trail Blazer mid-size sport utility vehicles. The complaints are similar to consumer reports that lead the NHTSA to open an investigation into some 2007 Camry, Camry Solara and Rav4 vehicles, earlier this month. The NHTSA will be focusing on whether window switches on the GM and Toyota vehicles were manufactured by the same supplier. The investigation could affect up to 310,000, 2006-2007 Chevrolet Trailblazers. According to the safety administration, the Buick Rainer, Saab 9-7x, and the GMC Envoy share the same parts at the Trail Blazer, but these vehicle are not part of the investigation yet